In arena report: From the bottom of the Net(s)
I'm basically an away-game fan. It's been years since I've been to a home game in Portland. The Rose Garden was pretty new. I've never been to the Moda Center. I'm not alone. There are a lot of us around the world.
The red and black used to pile onto a bus at Penn Station and shuttle into New Jersey to watch the Blazers pummel the Nets once a year. It was always a sure win. The Nets fans didn't mind. Knicks games were the same way for years when the orange and blue faithful were more interested in booing their team than heckling us usurpers -- that is until one Ramon Felton stunk it up so bad we lost by 20 and the jeering season ticket holders behind me wanted to fight. No sports allegiance is worth uncivilized behavior, ever. The same was true in New Orleans years ago when an ugly Blazer loss led to a band of uglies taunting me and my colors in the parking lot. It could have gotten bad (for me). In both cases my seats were superb.
There is an away-fan equation to be gently traversed: The better your seats, the more fierce the home fans around you. If your team wins, you can be the biggest ass you want; no one can touch you. If you lose, you may endure some heckling, some cheap shots, and even the threat of violence.
In LA earlier this season we endured the lamest Clippers fan I could ever imagined existed. I will not relive it in memory for your benefit, so grossly scarred is my brain by their cheap fedora posturing.
Tonight the Nets-to-Blazer fan ratio was a rough 60-40. Pretty tight. But you can't blame the home squad as it was one of the first warm evenings of the year here, and a Monday, and a make-up game for the snow day. There were a lot of empty seats. We had great ones, as did a fair number of other Blazermaniacs. There were new white-and-black Nets jerseys and hats and shirts, old NJ Nets red apparel, and even some really old NJ blue stuff from the '80s. As for the Blazers, lots of Lillard, some LaMarcus, a sweet 00 Duckworth, quite a bit of 7 Roy, a 22 Dexler, and loads of generic "Portland" and pinwheels.
We were deep in enemy territory among the big-money season ticket holders. They were not happy about the incursion and tried their best to out-shout us. It got ugly when the wretch to our right -- in leopard-print tights and acid-washed denim Nets jacket -- began shouting "Blazers suck it!" I don't know what "it" was but I know I was not inclined to find out. As the score got away from the good guys the home crowd fought back vocally, hollering for Blazer fans to return to their seats (and not claim empty chairs further up), to observe their "Brooklyn", and to, yes, suck it even more. The game was lost and so too was the battle of the stands. We slinked away from Section 9, row 6 as the final horn blew.
On the train home a man in full Knicks attire -- I mean head-to-toe orange and blue for some reason -- said he was upset Steve Blake did not do more. Mrs Y5k, a huge Blake fan, agreed. We were both dismayed when it came to pass in conversation that his affinity for Blake was due to a loathsome L@ker fandom. He freely admitted this in a public place. Some simply have no disgrace, I suppose.
In other news, I can assure you all those phantom calls on Joel Freeland are just as mystifying in person AND the number of uncalled fouls against Lillard is equal if not grater. I counted three uncalled slaps on Dame's arms on several possessions (aloud, much to the chagrin of my section mates). Meyers Leonard, on the other hand, seemed to have forgotten how to play basketball for three quarters. His line looks a lot better than it did in person.
We caught eyes with Terry Stotts just after the introductions and he smiled. He seemed very cool. He looked back our way a few times later in the game as if to say "We're doing the best we can."
It was fun, even if we lost.
The train ride home smelled like someone's feet died in there shortly before we boarded so I'm going to go shower now. Cheers.
We always love reports from the road! Thanks to Y5k. I vote we take up a collection to get him a huge straw so he can be ready for the jeers the next time he goes.
Here are various pictures attached to the evening.
Portland Fans Represent
Mike and Mike Get to Work
And they say the Blazers have retired some superfluous numbers...
The Good Guys in action